An online petition to get the royals to pay for Buckingham Palace’s £369 million refurbishment is said to be gathering pace.
It has attracted more than 130,000 signatures.
The plea at first sight is superficially appealing.
A family with immense wealth gets a huge renovation paid for by the taxpayer, while many people across London struggle to afford housing.
But this is a misleading way of presenting the situation.
Buckingham Palace not only lays claim to being perhaps Britain’s most famous building, it is a palace of global importance.
Recognised around the world, it is the focal point for the millions of tourists who visit the United Kingdom every year.
It is not merely the plaything of a privileged family, but rather a building that is held in trust for the nation.
Buckingham Palace is the host venue for banquets held in honour of international leaders, from American presidents down, who covet a royal invitation.
A building of such size and architectural significance is costly to maintain. This particular set of works will last a decade, but have an influence on the structure that lasts decades.
In one sense £369 million is a vast amount of money, and losing such a sum would make inroads into the wealth even of the Crown. But it is money that the UK as a whole can afford.
The Treasury subvention to Northern Ireland alone runs at around £20 million a day, and that is for a Province that only makes up around 3% of the UK population.
The Queen, who is said to be careful with money, is sensitive to public feeling on finances. In 1992 she was prepared to pay 70% of the costs of repairing Windsor Castle after its fire.
But the money to do that did not grow on trees – Her Majesty had to open Buckingham Palace to the public to help fund the restoration. The fact that the palace is now a firm tourist attraction, bringing money and kudos to Britain, is another reason why funding its refurbishment is money well spent.